Don’t just tell it, show it


This is an old story, but the moral behind the lesson still rings true.

One Sunday morning during service, a 2,000-member congregation was surprised to see two men enter, covered from head to toe in black and carrying sub-machine guns.

One of the men proclaimed, “Anyone willing to take a bullet for Christ, remain where you are.”

Immediately, the choir fled, the deacons fled, and most of the congregation fled. Out of the 2,000 there, only around 20 remained.

The man who had spoken took off his hood, looked at the minister, and said, “Okay, Pastor, I got rid of all the hypocrites. Now you may begin your service. Have a nice day!” And the two men turned and walked out.

I guess we live in times when going to church is borne out of a sense of “duty” and, for some, motivated by the desire to be fashionable. A once-a-week ritual to appease the guilt like the rest of the days of the week are spent on the same worldly practices that contradict God’s Word.

Dick Innes writes an article on his website Daily Encounter, and this is so powerful I want to share this with you.

“If you love me, keep my commandments.” “A ruthless businessman once said to author Mark Twain, “Before I die, I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud from the top.” “I have a better idea,” Twain remarked, “You could stay home here and keep them.”

Talk is cheap. It’s what we do that counts – not what we say – and when our words don’t match our actions, we are empty vessels and clanging symbols, as the Apostle Paul put it.

“I know of businessmen who would not miss church, but you will be appalled at the way they cheat, lie and deceive when they do business,” says Dick Innes, but let me add to this. I know ministers who appear holy, yet deep inside them is a heart full of greed and envy. Dick says: “One of the best lessons I learned from one of my many teachers was the written comment he seemed to relish writing in bold red letters in the column of several of my written assignments. It simply read, “Show me. Don’t tell me!”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. It applies to all of life’s lessons we want to impart to others, especially our children! Whatever we want to teach others, we need to model ourselves before we can make any lasting impact on anybody else; otherwise, what we say is unbelievable, and the only person we deceive in the long run will be ourselves. As a general rule, we teach best that which we most need to learn. And the place to begin modeling what we want to teach? At home!” Our children and even our people in the workplace may not believe 100 percent, we say, but they certainly believe 100 percent they see – what we are doing.

People are intelligent; we cannot use good reasons to do wrong things. God is wise, and He knows the motives of the heart. Somebody says: “Let your Christianity be real. If it is not real, then never even attempt to export it.”

A well-known German proverb puts it this way. “When the fox preaches, look to your geese.” Don’t just tell, show.

Could we just encourage all these people in leadership positions, whether in private or public organizations, to show and not just tell?



(Francis Kong’s podcast “Inspiring Excellence” is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or other podcast streaming platforms.)


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